Westerns are filled with action-packed horseback moments: fording rushing rivers, cavalry charges, and rounding up stampeding cattle to name just a few. Not all actors have the riding know-how to handle such scenes, and not all studios want to risk the safety of their leading cast. Enter the stunt doubles—the unsung heroes of cinema. Without them, the scenes that make Westerns so exciting wouldn’t be possible.
Cassidy Vick Hice has been in the stunt double game for nearly 20 years—her first job was doing the horseback riding scenes as Lindsay Lohan’s double in The Parent Trap (1998)—and has amassed an impressive list of Western credits to her name. A childhood spent riding horses gave her a competitive edge in the field. She says, “I’ve been on horses and rodeoing since I was a kid. It definitely gave me experience that makes me stand out.”
Have some riding chops and want to break into the business? It’s not as easy as just knowing how to ride a horse.
“Unfortunately, there’s no formula,” says Hice. “A lot of the time, getting into the industry depends on who you know. Getting an agent can help, but word of mouth is the best way to find jobs.
“And make sure you’re physically fit!” she adds. “You need to be ready to do whatever task the director asks of you.”
Before you polish your resume, get head shots, and start networking in earnest, make sure you’re up for the job; it often means long hours, inconsistent income, and time spent away from home.
“I’ve had to wake up at 3 a.m., work all through the night, and work 21-hour days,” says Hice. “And the work comes and goes in waves. You constantly have to be prepared for the dry spells.”
Worst of all though, she says, is being away from home. “Working away from your family, friends, loved ones, and animals for months at a time—that’s tough.”
Ultimately though, the sacrifices are worth it. Hice has experienced things most only dream about. A career high was stunt doubling for actress Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit (2010).
“I grew up watching that movie, so it was surreal to be part of the remake,” she says. “There’s a scene where I cross a river. Afterward, a production assistant asked me, ‘How does it feel to have the whole crew cheering for you?’ Nailing that shot was a good feeling.
“Horses have always been in my life. It’s an incredible privilege to do what I do for a living: riding good horses in some beautiful country.”
Cassidy Vick Hice is a fourth-generation stunt person who broke into the business at the age of 10 as Lindsay Lohan’s stunt double in The Parent Trap (1998). She’s worked on the Western films True Grit (2010), Cowboys and Aliens (2011), The Hateful Eight (2015), and Jane Got a Gun (2016).